05 October 1915

General Sir Ian Hamilton, Headquarters, Mediterranean Expeditionary Force - With little if no support from London and with ongonig criticism from the Dardanelles Committee (the war cabinet), Hamilton continued his diary with a rant, but still appeared optimistic that if only he had the shell and troops he could have beaten the Turks. A man not beaten, but a campaign with the writing clearly on the wall.

"5th October, 1915. First thing another cable from K [Kitchener] saying, "I think it well to let you know" that it is "quite understood by the Dardanelles Committee that you are adopting only a purely defensive attitude at present." Also: "I have no reason to imagine you have any intention of taking the offensive anywhere along the line seeing I have been unable to replace your sick and wounded men.” But, if he knows I can't take the offensive, why trouble to cable me that the Dardanelles Committee expect me to adopt "only a purely defensive attitude"? I realize where we stand; K., Braithwaite and I, on the verge. We are getting on for two months now since the August fighting all that time we have been allowed to do nothing literally, allowed to do nothing, seeing we have been given no shell. What a fiasco! The Dardanelles is not a sanatorium; Suvla is not Southend. With the men we have lost from sickness in the past six weeks we could have beaten the Turks twice over. Now Government seem to be about to damn everything themselves included. But after all, who am I to judge the Government of the British Empire? What do I know of their difficulties, pledges, and enemies whether outside or inside the fold? I have no grouse against Government or War Office still less against K. though many hundred times have I groused. Freely and gratefully do I admit that the individuals have done their best. Most of all am I indebted very deeply indebted to K. for having refrained absolutely from interference with my plan of campaign or with the tactical execution thereof. But things are happening now which seem beyond belief. That the Dardanelles Committee should complacently send me a message to say we "quite understand that you are adopting only a purely defensive attitude at present" is staggering when put side by side with the carbon of this, the very last cable I have sent them. "I think you should know immediately that the numbers of sick evacuated in the IXth Corps during the first three days of October were 500 men on the 1st instant; 735 men on the 2nd instant and 607 men on the 3rd instant. Were this rate kept up it would come to 45 per cent, of our strength evacuated in one month."

"Three quarters of this sickness is due to inaction and now the Dardanelles Committee "quite understand" I am "adopting only a purely defensive action at present." I have never adopted a defensive attitude. They have forced us to sit idle and go sick because at the very last moment they have permitted the French offensive to take precedence of ours, although, on the face of it, there was no violent urgency in France as there is here. Our men in France were remarkably healthy; they were not going sick by thousands. But I feel too sick myself body and soul to let my mind dwell on these miseries."

"Sealed my resolution (resignation ?) by giving my answer about Braithwaite. Though the sins of my General Staff have about as much to do with the real issues as the muddy water had to do with the death of the argumentative lamb, I begin by pointing out to the War Office wolf that "no Headquarters Staff has ever escaped similar criticism."

"Grumblings are an old campaigner's vade mecum. Bred by inaction; enterprise and activity smother them. A sickness of the spirit, they are like the flies that fasten on those who stay too long in one place. Was Doughty Wylie "much out of touch with the troops” when he led the Dublins, Munsters and Hampshires up from ‘V' beach and fell gloriously at their head ? Was Williams "out of touch" when he was hit? Was Hore Ruthven ? "As to Braithwaite," I say, "my confidence in that Officer is complete. I did not select him; you gave him to me and I have ever since felt most grateful to you for your choice."

"Now I feel better."


Sir I Hamilton, Gallipoli Diary, Vol.II, (Edward Arnold: London 1920), p.237-238.